The last time I wrote about Greenwich it was for the A to Z challenge here. My focus then was on the town and its history with only a few glimpses of Greenwich Park through the fences that surround the National Maritime museum. I told myself then to return, Dog by my side and have a good nose around.
In fact it needed a nudge from a friend with her Labrador to get me going but once underway I’m glad we decided on here for our walk.
We parked in Greenwich Park, not far from the Royal Observatory building – £4 for 4 hours, which is a bit steep, frankly. It is a function of the popularity and affluence of the area and a lack of on and off street parking. However we were there on a damp Tuesday in June; it was pretty nearly empty so ‘rip off’ did come to mind.
Hey ho, if I want to live in a gloriously varied city I have to tolerate some downsides I suppose.
We headed out of the park, due south, to circumnavigate Blackheath. That is the heath itself and not the village of the same name.
Quite honestly Blackheath is pretty plain to look at, just a gently arched area of open grassland surrounded by a variety of expensive houses and the eponymous village.
It has an interesting history, being reputed to be named after the vast number of plague victims buried there – a myth apparently. Wat Tyler tried a peasants’ revolt in the 14th century and said peasants mustered here before losing on away goals or penalties or something. Ditto the Kentish revolt of 1450 under John Cade. Neither worked as intended though these heroes of folk law are memorialised in some road names hereabouts. I’m sure they are really grateful.
The heath is criss-crossed with roads, which makes it a faff with a dog that has a tendency to wander ahead and has the road sense of an astigmatic hedgehog. One such road is the main A2 heading into London, a veritable strip of gas-guzzling thunder. This has always been an important artery for London, originally Watling Street a Roman road. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, this road proved to be a popular testing ground for prospective highway persons, auditing purses and other gold and silver holding bags. Today the rattle of constant traffic makes you long for someone to stop the flow, even if they require some form of gratuity.
We stopped for coffee, as you do, at a rather nice Buenos Aires cafe and enjoyed a pretty decent brew. The woman at the next table appeared to be on fire – it was a vapping thingy that she worked as hard as any coal fired power station works in the half time interval during a world cup. Horrid thing. I growled and glared but I was ineffective in persuading her of the error of her pollutive ways.
Incentivised to get going, we passed a rather fine church – All Saints – and headed for Greenwich Park. This is a complete contrast to the heath. Walled at its southern end it slopes dramatically down to the river and overlooks the bowl of London in the distance and the Royal Naval college and the Maritime museum in the foreground.
There are trees, the meridian line, a ship in a bottle
and a rather sour faced statue of General Wolfe who arm-wrestled the French for the right to run Canada.
But the gorgeous views are what draw you back
that and the splendid buildings on its northern fringe.
On the western edge the park overlooks a grand building once lived in by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect responsible for the rather grand Blenheim Palace. They have installed a blue plaque too, a sure sign of the man’s importance.
We wandered back up the slope, catching our breath as we took in more views and angled our path towards the Royal Observatory once again.
Here the cafe provided me with my dying wish meal – in the same way as I have long known the music I want at my funeral, I also know the meal I’d have if I ended up a condemned man – the main course would be a perfect jacket potato, butter and a heap of mature cheddar and baked beans with a crisp mixed salad on the side. Ah, me, like the views, something to purr over.
This walk is part of Jo’s Monday Walks: click here for more ideas and fun